Brickies rejoice as building boom busts in Gladstone

LOCAL bricklayers are rejoicing as nomadic brickies move on from Gladstone to chase a building boom in south-east Queensland.

Central Queensland bricklayer Gordon Cooper said the industry had changed for the better.

"With guys heading down south to pick up all of the work, I have been able to pick up some more jobs," he said.

"We have got six on at the moment and they have all come in the last week."

Queensland manager of the Australian Brick and Bricklaying Training Foundation, Tony Bishop, said it was good news nomadic bricklayers had left Gladstone.

"Gladstone isn't well endowed with brickies," he said.

"The ones they have are good, and now the market has corrected itself and they will be able to sustain the right amount of work."

Mr Bishop said a failure to retain apprentices had created rolling shortages.

"Kids find it hard to come straight out of school to stacking bricks all day," he said.

Bricklayer Ken Gill said he went through 20 new trainees in one year.

"It's just too hard. You're bending over 24/7. There's no money in it. They just don't want to do it," he said.

"Business is back to normal now though. I can work on a few jobs at a time with my son."

Gradey Gill is learning the art of bricklaying from his father - from the flick of mud on a trowel to the precise way to butter a brick.

The 20-year-old is halfway through his four-year apprenticeship but he's already spent five years labouring with his dad.

"I'm in the sun most of the days and he is in the shade laying bricks," he said.

"How to butter a brick is very important. (It's) nowhere near as easy as it looks.

"I come in once dad does the first few layers. I'm not very good at that yet.

"It's all about the trowel. Everyone has a different one. You can feel difference in the weight. Flicking the mud on the trowel the right way took me about a week."

With a trowel in one hand, the brick sits in the other.

"You get these sores on your index finger called 'birds' eyes' from holding the bricks all day," he said.

"Some guys wear gloves at the end of the week because their hands are covered in sores.

"It's definitely a trade people don't really understand."



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